Hands-On Ways to Engage Students during Youth Art Month
Enjoy an artful departure from spring fever through creative art lessons.
Created in 1961, Youth Art Month is an annual commemoration of the intrinsic and extrinsic value of art education for all learners. Art is medium of expression, creativity, and joy, allowing children the chance to delve into critical thinking and problem solving in less traditional ways. This month provides the opportunity to develop and share meaningful art adventures with people of all ages.
Inspiring Young Artists
Young artists are often eager to join in any art opportunity and share their process and products exuberantly. As time goes on, not everyone shares the same level of comfort. I have found that a number of inspiring books or lead-in activities help to kick start the creative energy of the class.
- Visualizations with watercolors: Have your class close their eyes and imagine a time they were happy. Give them time to hone in on the moment and hold it in their memory. Next, using only primary watercolors, have them paint the feeling. Their work may be abstract or representational.
- Selecting a muse or point of inspiration: During different class periods, I have offered the opportunity to select a piece of inspiration from photos, a school garden walk, music, poems, movies, etc.
- The Dot and Ish by Peter Reynolds, or The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paulo, share insight into claiming your own artistic power.
Drawing from personally relevant and intriguing points of inspiration gives young artists the chance to simultaneously build confidence and skill. This is important in allowing for freedom of expression while maintaining structure to foster development of foundational skills and techniques.
Spread the Word; Get Involved with Art Month Projects
Youth Art Month is a fantastic time to reflect on current arts integration and implementation in schools. It provides a time each year for school stakeholders (teachers, parents, students, and all learning community members) to support and advocate for the arts.
- Contributions to school: Classrooms can each take on a special project or school beautification effort. Some ideas include painting benches, designing murals, creating mosaic stones for the school garden, or designing decorative signs for areas of the school.
- Classroom decoration and design: My classes have always delighted in actively participating in decorating their environment. Some of our favorite projects include window clings, interactive bulletin boards using elements of design, and repurposed crayon activities.
- Art projects: These are a wonderful way to build home-to-school connections. It allows for connection to the curriculum while feeding the left-brains of the whole family.
- Community involvement: This can be fostered through a number of possible outreach events and activities. This includes, but is not limited to art contests, student art display in local libraries and museums, sponsored assemblies or forums on art, sidewalk chalk displays, and arts and crafts workshops for families.
More Art Month Lessons:
Creative art kits provide the chance to explore a featured artist and create memories with art. This step-by-step guide walks through the process for creating, organizing, introducing, and dispersing art kits in the classroom. Kits can be modified to meet specific needs and topical interests.
Using precise measurements of the provided grab bag materials, young artists design, record, and share a personalized art project. Through creative problem solving and critical thinking, each group is sure to each come to a unique end result.
After a brief history of stained glass, young artisans delve into the creation of their own piece of stained glass using acetate. The directions make this project easy to set up, direct, and complete with all ages.